News Column

Snap to it!

July 15, 2014

By Ashley Booker, The Garden City Telegram, Kan.



July 15--MONTEZUMA -- Original motivational posters that once hung in factories and office spaces between 1923 to 1929 are splashed in color across the walls of the Stauth Memorial Museum.

"At one time, people really believed they could motivate their workers by posters," said Keith Lumry, an assistant to the director at the museum. "When you compare workplaces then to workplaces now, and yet every one of these messages are still as relevant today as they were in 1923."

The exhibit, "Say it With Snap!" displays 48 historic posters that capture historic moments, sayings and changes in employment trends that were meant to motivate workers. The exhibit will be displayed until Aug. 10.

Catchy slogans during the 1920s were designed to coax and even advise employees to perform at their best.

One poster in the collection had a line of factory smokestacks with an ambulance speeding along the front. The slogan read, "Chance Takers Keep Hospitals Busy! Take a chance. Lose an eye -- a hand -- a leg! Lose a month's time, Don't Trade Your Life for Ten Seconds!"

This poster was from 1925 and was created to speak to the workers in America's mills, mines, railroads and other factories who faced the daily possibility of an on-the-job injury or even death. Their message was meant to ensure safety and harness productivity into a poster, according to a card alongside the poster.

Throughout the exhibit, Lumry finds the posters speaking to him for many reasons -- partially because they hold a history that uses slogans or sayings that many people say today, or because even today, the slogans are relevant and useful.

"I've always learned that phrase, 'You strike when the iron's hot.' Well, they avoided using the word 'strike' in the phrase because there were a lot of labor strikes and a lot of stress in the unions and so, 'Let's hit when the iron's hot.' They twist everything around," Lumry said.

He also noticed that only one of the 48 posters features a female, while today, there are many women in the workforce. The exhibit allows those in attendance to not only compare the history on its pages, but also allows them to see how different the workplace is today. The poster with a large grinning woman's face says, "Say it -- and smile. The friendly, helpful cheerful way is always best. Make a Friend."

"I bet you every one of us has been somewhere where that poster should still be hanging in a retail space or someplace just within the last week," Lumry said, smiling.

Alongside the historical posters are five of today's motivational posters, to add contrast.

Museum director Kim Legleiter said she booked this exhibit in 2011, and immediately knew it was something she would like because the graphics pulled her in.

Legleiter enjoys the section of the exhibit where you can create your own poster with magnets that were provided. The magnets have many different motivational sayings, or people working.

A one-hour History Channel movie based on the history of the 1920s is also available.

For tours and more information, call (620) 8462527. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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(c)2014 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.)

Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com

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Source: Garden City Telegram, The (KS)


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